Our environment presents opportunities and constraints. But as we progress, we get better control at our environmental conditions through technology. For example, instead of just praying for rainfall, we can now instead build dams and irrigation systems to water our crops and get a predictable supply of water. We can also direct resources from rich environments or cooperate with other countries to get what we need.
Still, our environment influences our behavior. Whether it’s because of the initial conditions or the result of human action (e.g. climate change), our environment still affects how we behave both individually and collectively. Individually, for instance, I can turn on the air conditioner whenever it feels hot, especially here in the Philippines which is a tropical country. Collectively, we can cooperate and implement legislations that will stop or slow down global warming.
It’s a dynamic relationship between us humans and the environment. We continuously respond and adapt, and the environment somehow does the same. It’s like Newton’s Third Law of Motion where for every action, there is an opposite reaction. However, that reaction affects everyone, even if most of them did almost nothing to the environment. For example, intensive resource extraction and pollution happen in industrialized countries. Yet even far away developing countries suffer the environmental consequences.
We can always respond and adapt according to the prevailing environmental conditions, often through technology (e.g. carbon capture, solar power and other renewable energy sources) and cooperation at a global scale (e.g. policies and international agreements that encourage sustainable practices). However, it’s not enough that we just respond and adapt. We now have to anticipate the future threats and be several steps ahead. This way we can still always enjoy and appreciate the opportunities the environment provides to us and future generations can also do the same.